The fragmentary medieval chronicle, Historia Norwegie, is the oldest piece of historical writing from Norway, and probably our first specimen of Norwegian literature. It was composed in Latin in the second half of the twelfth century, perhaps in the Oslo area. We only possess the beginning of the work, but it offers, among other things, a detailed report of a shamanic seance among the Sami as well as a unique early geographical description of Norway and the North Sea realm. Furthermore we are presented with an early version of the Norwegian kings' genealogy, beginning with the mythical Yngling kings and ending, abruptly, with Olav Haraldsson's claim to the throne in 1015. This is the first critical edition of the Latin text since 1880, accompanied by a new English translation by Peter Fisher. The introduction and full commentary in English takes stock of previous scholarship and makes new contributions to the interpretation of the text.
Publisher: Museum Tusculanum Press
Number of pages: 230
Weight: 632 g
Dimensions: 243 x 165 x 21 mm
The twelfth-century Historia Norwegie (HN) is probably the earliest literary work in Latin by a Norwegian to come down to us. One strength of this new edition, the first of HN in almost 125 years, is that its editors are specialists in Medieval Latin. Their commentary, rich in observations about medieval Latin spellings, usage, sources, vocabulary, and syntax, explains in detail the reasons for preferring one reading over another. Another strength is that the editorial language is English: just as the anonymous author of HN used Latin to convey his story to an international audience, so the English notes, apparatus, introduction, and commentary of this edition make it accessible to the scholarly community at large. [...] The editors of HN have done their part to draw public attention to this first step in the rise of Latin letters in Norway. They and the Museum Tusculanum Press have produced an attractive and affordable hardbound book, whose meticulously prepared Latin text and apparatus will be an important resource for years to come.- Roberta Frank, Yale University, The Journal of Medieval Latin, 2004
Mortensen's introduction constitutes a sound presentation of the very latest thinking on Historia Norwegie and is a valuable contribution independent of the edition and commentary ... Fisher's translation, like his translation of Saxo Grammaticus, is excellent. Stylistically unobtrusive, it strikes a near-perfect balance between the original and readable English ... [T]he commentary functions at a uniformly high level and is an excellent contribution to the study of Historia Norwegie ... Anyone seeking to delve deeper into these issues, both through an excellent edition and translation and a stimulating gathering of secondary materials, must consult this important book.- John Lindow, University of California, Berkeley, Speculum, October 2005